Portraying Australians
Level 3 English Focus

Introduction to Portraying Australians

In this module students explore how Australia and Australians are portrayed in the popular media.  With a focus on racial and cultural diversity, it explores stereotypes and the exclusion of groups from representation in films, television and advertising.  Students consider the implications this has for Australia and how the situation can be changed.

All activities in this module are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: English, Years 7 and 8.  (Click here to see the Curriculum Links

The module focuses on developing intercultural understanding through the following learning objectives.  Students will:

This guide provides information about the four activities in this module:

These activities are complementary but can also be used independently.  Each activity is supported with suggested teacher-led introductory and concluding activities.  For the online components students can work individually, in pairs or as small groups.  These activities can also be adapted for use with a smartboard.

Activity 1: Stereotypes and Aboriginal Australians

In this activity students explore stereotypical representations of Aboriginal Australians in film and television.  Students analyse four images from film and television and reflect on the impact of the representations.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Discuss the term stereotype with your students.  Ask them to brainstorm some of the stereotypes about teenagers that are portrayed in the popular media.  Challenge students to find images from the popular media that portray these stereotypes.

Encourage students to reflect on how much they can or cannot see themselves in the stereotypes they have identified.  Students may like to do this by completing the statement:
Some people think I am ............... but what I really am is ....................

Online Activity

Before commencing this activity, familiarise your students with how to navigate through the website.

Part A: Analysing images
Students are provided with information about stereotypes and Aboriginal Australians, and watch a short video where an Aboriginal woman reflects on how Aboriginal Australians are portrayed in film and television.

Students are then given information about the techniques used to create images.  They are asked to analyse four images from film and television and reflect on how they portray Aboriginal Australians.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with your students:

Activity 2: Get Reel

In this activity students write a proposal for a prime time soap opera that is reflective of the diversity in the Australian population.

Introductory Activity — Offline

As a class, ask students to name and list all the Australian actors they can think of.  When you have a reasonable list, ask students to identify actors on the list who represent the diversity of Australian society, including racial, ethnic or religious diversity.  Ask students why their list of actors did or did not include actors from diverse backgrounds.

Online Activity

Part A: Your soap opera pilot
Students are set their 'task' as a scriptwriter at Inclusive Television Australia and are provided with information that will assist them with developing character and story line summaries for the pilot of their television program.

Students are then asked to download and save an editable PDF form, which they complete to develop their concept for an inclusive soap opera.  This form can also be printed and written on.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss with students the benefits of and likely audiences for their inclusive soap operas.

Ask students to imagine that their pilot has been created and that they need to market and advertise it prior to its first airing.  Set students the challenge of creating a media release about their show.  They should describe the show and explain why it promotes diversity and inclusivity.  You will find Writing a media release helpful for this task.

Activity 3: Brand Australia

In this activity students explore how advertising works and how it influences the way Australians see themselves.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students how they would 'brand' Australia.  As a class brainstorm a list of symbols, imagery, and identities that they think capture the essence of Australia.

Online Activity

Part A: Selling a holiday in Sydney
Students analyse an image from a Tourism Australia campaign and then complete a survey about the image three times, each time from the perspective of a different Australian.

Having considered the advertisement from different standpoints, students write an analysis of the poster, identifying the features and techniques used to create it.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with your students:


Activity 4: Selling Diversity

In this activity students are asked to design an advertising campaign poster that promotes a diverse and inclusive Australia.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Display the Difference Differently logo and explain the aim of the resource, which is to promote awareness and acceptance of diversity in Australian schools.  You may like to display or download a large version of the logo.  As a class or in small groups, analyse the logo to identify the symbolism and message depicted through the colours and design features.

Online Activity

Part A: What does diversity mean to you?
Students consider how they would sell the positive aspects of inclusivity and diversity in a marketing campaign.  Students are given information on advertising techniques and asked to create a digital poster.

Once students have completed their poster they are asked to write a short statement explaining their message, target group, and why they included particular language and design features.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Compare and contrast posters in a class discussion, identifying elements that make a poster work.  Brainstorm ways that students' posters could be displayed for a wider audience and spread the message of diversity and inclusivity in your school community and beyond.

Module Reflection

You may like to use a reflection or self-assessment strategy to monitor student engagement with this module.

Further Activity Ideas